The School Board on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016 unanimously voted to recognize retiring Superintendent of Schools Dr. Frank R. Petruzielo by naming the new Educational Services Facility in his honor.
Dr. Petruzielo, who is retiring at the end of the month and served at his final School Board meeting on Thursday, was humbled by the recognition, noting that the past 17 years of service to the Cherokee County School District “have been the best of my 50-year career in education.”
“I was expecting a plaque,” Dr. Petruzielo joked after the surprise honor was announced. “This is an extraordinary honor and an unbelievable recognition. I don’t think that in my career I’ve ever felt as appreciated as I do this evening!”
Dr. Petruzielo, whose leadership and accomplishments were celebrated with numerous standing ovations, went on to thank: CCSD teachers, noting how much he appreciates their “sacrifices and hard work”; his wife and family; his senior staff; School Board members; local education reporters; his dedicated executive secretary and administrative assistant; and the community’s “incredible” PTA volunteers and leaders.
“I hope everyone will agree that I am leaving the School District in good shape and in good hands,” Dr. Petruzielo said. The much-needed administrative facility is under construction on the Bluffs Parkway in Canton and will open in August 2017. A dedication ceremony for “The Dr. Frank R. Petruzielo Educational Services Facility” will be held upon the facility’s completion.
School Board members praised Dr. Petruzielo for his dedication and success and thanked him for his service on behalf of students, parents and the broader community; and expressed appreciation for the professional relationships he built with them.
“Sir, you have set the standard for education,” said Board Member Rick Steiner, who stood to deliver his message as a sign of respect. Mr. Steiner noted his heroes are his father; his wrestling coaches; Ted Turner and Muhammad Ali, for whom he worked; and that he adds Dr. Petruzielo to that list: “You have taught me how to be a leader.”
Board Vice Chair Patsy Jordan wiped away tears as she thanked Dr. Petruzielo for beginning a life-changing journey for her… from his recommendation that she be hired as a CCSD teacher 17 years ago to serving alongside him on the School Board dais. “It has been one of the greatest experiences of my life,” she said.
The meeting included several other surprise recognitions for Dr. Petruzielo, including establishment by the Cherokee County Educational Foundation of a professional development annual scholarship in his name. The “Dr. Frank R. Petruzielo Leadership Award” is a $1,500 annual award that will be granted by CCEF to the most outstanding graduate of the CCSD Superintendent’s Leadership Academy for teacher-leaders, a capacity-building program instituted by Dr. Petruzielo. The grant enables the winner, who will be selected by his/her peers, to participate in additional professional development opportunities.
“Dr. P is a visionary with unsurpassed leadership,” CCEF Board President William “Billy” G. Hasty Jr. said as he announced the scholarship. Since its establishment in 2012 with Dr. Petruzielo’s support, CCEF has issued more than $80,000 in grants to the School District’s teachers, students and schools, with another $25,000 to be awarded in February. “It has been such a pleasure to be a part of this and witness all that is happening in the School District. You’re an inspiration.”
Following recognition of CCSD for its third consecutive inclusion in annual Advanced Placement (AP) District Honor Roll Recognition, which celebrates school districts with increasing percentages of student participation and success in the AP Program, Dr. Petruzielo was honored by The College Board, which administers the Program. “During your tenure, you have opened the door of opportunity for so many students,” Kendall Hawkins with The College Board said in her remarks praising Dr. Petruzielo for increasing student access to not only AP courses, but also to SAT and PSAT testing. Since Dr. Petruzielo’s arrival in 1999, CCSD has seen dramatic increases in participation and passage rates for these courses and tests… 108% increase in SAT participation, 260% increase in PSAT participation and 809% increase in AP participation.
During the Public Participation section of the meeting, longtime CCSD teacher Anita Geoghagan praised Dr. Petruzielo for his passionate advocacy for teachers and public education. “You didn’t take no for an answer even when there were times when that would have been easier,” she said.
The School Board’s regular meeting followed a Strategic Work Session, during which Dr. Petruzielo and his staff briefed the Board on important issues, including: a 2016-17 CCSD budget forecast in light of the Governor’s release of his proposed State budget for next year and anticipated State legislation (an initial CCSD report in this regard is attached); a capital outlay program update; the most recent status report on the Governor’s “Opportunity School District” local school State takeover plan; and a draft 2016-17 CCSD Organizational Chart.
During its regular meeting, the School Board also:
- Approved a three-year employment contract for Dr. Brian V. Hightower, whom the Board unanimously appointed last month to serve as the next Superintendent of Schools, from Feb. 1, 2016 through Jan. 31, 2019;
- Re-elected Patsy Jordan to serve as Vice Chair for a second one-year term;
- Recognized Teasley MS as a Georgia 2015 Reward School for outstanding student progress, designating it as among the top 10% of Title I schools in Georgia;
- Recognized Johnston ES for being named a Platinum-Level Fit Friendly School by the American Heart Association… making it the first in CCSD to earn this National recognition. Lynn Ziner, youth market director for the Association, attended the meeting to present Johnston ES with the plaque;
- Recognized CCSD Adaptive PE teacher Amy Aenchbacher as Recipient of 2015 BlazeSports Triumph of the Human Spirit Award for making a significant impact in Georgia through adaptive sport and recreation;
- Recognized 2015-16 Reinhardt University/CCSD Mathematics Tournament Winners;
- Recognized State and Region Champions from Creekview HS Competition Cheerleading, Softball and Volleyball teams and Sequoyah HS Volleyball team;
- Adopted the Georgia Education Coalition (GEC) 2016 Legislative Priorities;
- Approved monthly financial reports;
- Approved 2015-16 School Improvement Plans (SIPs);
- Approved out-of-state travel;
- Approved out-of-state and overnight student field trips;
- Approved monthly update on capital outlay projects; and,
- Approved monthly personnel recommendations.
Next School Board meeting: 7 p.m. Feb. 4, 2016